I don’t write about politics too often anymore; it is, to be diplomatically understated, a volatile subject, and I felt beaten down by a few folks when I made any post that took a stance they disagreed with, no matter how politely I attempted to put it. This led to me getting, well, less polite toward the end of the 2004 election cycle, followed by me taking a break from political commentary completely. By and large I haven’t returned to it.( But here are thoughts on why I'm (mostly) a Democrat, and what kind of politician I'd really like to see. Not very ranty, but not without strongly held opinion. )
Scenes from the War on Christmas
Today this nice saleslady handed me the blue Tiffany box she had tied with a ribbon just so and, with a twinkle in her smile, wished me a Merry Christmas. So I socked her.
I’m losing patience with this particular fire-roasted chestnut: the idea that the Liberal Illuminati is on an all-out war to remove Christmas from modern life. The punditocracy isn’t just going after the uptight atheists demanding the Christmas tree be taken down from City Hall, but after corporations and networks and media outlets and hot dog carts that have the godless, unpatriotic audacity to say Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas.
While walking the web today, I came to the earnestly humorless halls of Media Matters, which has been tracking conservative attacks on perceived liberal attacks on this subject, and in turn came across a comment from someone saying, “Somehow I don’t see how putting up Christmas trees or allowing people to express their religion is bigoted.” I responded with, in part,
The cases where people get their noses bent out of joint and complain about these things are very rare. While “City Hall takes down Christmas decorations” is often news, “City Hall leaves Christmas decorations up” usually isn’t. What makes something newsworthy, particularly by TV news standards, is something that will cause viewers to be upset or outraged.
And boy, the outrage is on full blast. Never mind that it’s a very elaborate straw-Grinch.
Okay, it’s time to say it. Can the people complaining about all the political correctness in the world please shut up? You’ve been louder than the people you’ve been complaining about for years now. We wouldn’t even know about most of them if you weren’t hellbent on turning every example of ostensible PC overreaction, no matter how trivial, into national crusades.
And that’s putting it nicely. Less nicely: by turning the phrase into an exclusively conservative slapdown to anyone who takes offense at something they like, the anti-PC crowd makes the claim that offense itself is a conservative value that, like family and patriotism, liberals have no moral right to share. The hypocrisy in decrying any attempt to “introduce liberal values” into public life while mounting efforts to mandate conservative values, from school prayer to “intelligent design,” should be transparently obvious. But the idea that it’s only the liberals who want to impose their world views on society has been pounded so hard and so often that it’s become common wisdom—and fabulous cover.
So enough with the “War on Christmas” from the conservative thought police. Nobody is telling private citizens not to put up a Christmas tree, and even the most liberal of metro areas (like, say, the one I live in) has plenty of Christmas, not just “holiday,” activities around. Yet the drums beat relentlessly, pounding home the message that not just all those liberal big city guvmints but corporate America itself is part of “oppressive, totalitarian, anti-Christian forces in this country.” (Bill O’Reilly’s actual words.)
And apparently, the plan is that the oppressed minority of Christian Americans, only 77% of us, will get up and say, “Yes, Bill, now we know why Target’s color scheme is red! Thank you for opening our eyes! The phrase ‘Happy Holidays’ is the opening salvo in an insidious campaign to keep all of us from celebrating Christmas! Bing Crosby, you godless communist bastard!”
For those of us not joining the Hallelujah Chorus, though, remember: since we’re PC around these parts, anyone spouting off about the “War on Christmas” isn’t clueless. He’s differently clued.
This is said not to be a time for politics, and we can surely do without the petty sort. But how we pull our country together, make our government work at a time of great need, and share the sacrifices that war and natural catastrophe have imposed on us—these are inescapably political questions.
— E. J. Dionne( Four columns on the hurricane )